Yesterday morning, as I read the daily Scripture passages, memories of baking Christmas cookies with my mother came to mind.
The genealogy of Jesus is recounted at the beginning of the Gospel according to Matthew: “Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah…the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar…. Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab…Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth….” By this time (and maybe sooner!) listeners or readers of this passage tend to zone out on the names. I must admit, I used to also!
The importance of naming people becomes clear, when we realize that each person in the lineage of Jesus had a story. They had family customs, and memories of family time together. For example, I thought of the women mentioned in this genealogy (only 5 women among over 40 men named!). Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary surely provided teaching opportunities for their relatives. Perhaps they showed children how to draw water from a well, spin wool or bake bread. I imagine their tasks had unique family customs, which were passed down through generations.
My mother Nancy and I baked Christmas cookies the way her mother Bonnie taught her. I now make them as we once did together, as does my daughter Lisa, who is teaching her daughter Delaney to roll the dough thin, and cut the bells, stars and angels “just so.”
There are countless memories and instructions passed down through generations. Certainly Jesus gave us the most meaningful lessons to pass along. I am pleased now, when I read or hear this Scripture passage of the genealogy of Jesus. Each person named had an integral part of the ensuing generation’s story, and some of the stories are worth looking up, if we are not familiar with them!
The next time you read or hear the persons named in Jesus’ genealogy, let your imagination take you to the real people they were, to the struggles and bravery they demonstrated, to the simple activities of their lives, like baking bread, or cookies.
The story continues. What is your part?